A suspect has been arrested in the murder of a woman four decades after the body of the 21-year-old was found in Nevada, officials said.
Charles Gary Sullivan was extradited Friday to Nevada from Arizona, where he was arrested and charged in the 1979 murder of Julia Woodward, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
It’s one of the latest arrests made possible by advances in DNA technology decades after crimes were committed. In this case, a detective in the sheriff’s office’s new cold case unit asked for evidence from the scene to be tested.
Woodward’s body was found on March 25, 1979, in Hungry Valley, about 15 miles north of Reno, according to the sheriff’s office. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.
Her parents told investigators at the time she’d lived with them in San Rafael, California, before leaving to look for a job in the Lake Tahoe/Reno area, authorities said. She was last seen alive in California on February 1, 1979.
Biological evidence identified Sullivan as a possible suspect in the case. In August, the Nevada attorney general got an indictment against him.
Technological advances are leading to more and more cold case arrests. The most famous is probably the arrest in the Golden State Killer case in April 2018, where investigators used DNA and a free genealogy database to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, for allegedly killing 12 people and raping more than 50 women in the 1970s and 1980s.
In Philadelphia, investigators used photo-enhancing technolgoy to link an old sock to the then-boyfriend of a woman murdered in 1991. The 52-year-old man was arrested in September.